A rapid (3-h) arylsulfatase assay for cell suspensions of mycobacteria, in which -nitrophenyl sulfate is used as the substrate, was developed. Arylsulfatase activity was found in cell suspensions of representative strains of , and grown without the substrate in either Middlebrook 7H9 medium containing 0.2% (wt/vol) glucose and 0.05% (vol/vol) Tween 80 or Dubos broth medium, but was absent in cells grown in a low-pH, minimal medium containing 1% (vol/vol) Tween 80 as the sole carbon source. The levels of arylsulfatase activity of representatives of all three species were equal whether the activity was measured at pH 5.5, 6.5, or 7.5 and whether the cells were suspended in phosphate or Tris buffer. The addition of high levels of sulfate (present in the low-pH, Tween 80-containing medium) to Middlebrook 7H9 medium resulted in significantly lower levels of arylsulfatase activity in strains of , but did not affect the levels in either or . The levels of arylsulfatase activity were highest in , intermediate in , and lowest in strains. Polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis of crude extracts from late-log-phase cells of representatives of each species produced activity bands of unique mobility (one in , three in [82, 5, and 13%], and two in [60 and 40%]).


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